The barrier holding me back was myself. I would constantly overthink and start to doubt situations when things got stressful.” These are the words of Eduardo, a 2022 graduate of L.C. Bird High School. Earlier in the 21-22 school year he was close to dropping out. The stress of going through a pandemic as a young person, and managing through all of the other challenges that come with being a teenager, caused Eduardo to struggle with extreme anxiety and a lack of confidence. Things began to change after he got a call from LaQuita Hailstock, the CIS Reengagement Coordinator at L.C. Bird.

In this role, Ms. Hailstock’s primary focus was to reach out to the most disengaged seniors at the school – those on the verge of dropping out – helping them get back on track to graduate. “I was able to support him by providing coaching and mentoring. He often doubted his abilities to accomplish things in school. I told him that he has the abilities, and that I was there to encourage him to tap into them.” Eduardo started talking to Ms. Hailstock every day about his goals, interests, and dreams for his future. “No matter the issues, you constantly told me that if I just do a little bit each day, then each little bit will help me succeed,” Eduardo shared of their relationship.

Eduardo started to learn to ask for help, which was one of his biggest barriers. Having Ms. Hailstock check in with him every day helped Eduardo learn to manage his anxiety and motivated him to keep pushing when he wanted to give up. In thinking about her time working with Eduardo, Ms Hailstock said that “Eduardo has a huge heart and is one of the most respectful students that I have had the honor to work with. His smile is the door to his beautiful soul.”

Eduardo walked across the stage to receive his diploma, along with his peers, on May 25th! His next steps are to attend trade school to become an electrician, and with his newfound confidence, we know he will do great things!